New research finds demand for more disability sport news

Europe, September 1 2016

With a week to go before the Rio Paralympics, new research from the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) has shown the public’s desire to see more disability sport in the media. With many media channels set to cover elite disability sport at the Rio Paralympics.

2012 Paralympics coverage on newspaper front pagesThe report flags the importance of coverage beyond the Games and on a par with non-disabled people in sport. To support journalists and those who provide news content on people with disabilities in sport, EFDS is also releasing a better practice Guide to accompany the research.

To produce the Media Research Report, EFDS commissioned ComRes, who spoke to disabled people, non-disabled people and sports journalists from local, national and specialist outlets. As well as benchmarking media’s current portrayal of people with disabilities in sport, it assesses opinions on disability sport news. The key findings show:

  • The way the media reports on people with disabilities in sport has a societal impact and has wider effects on people’s perceptions of disability.
  • Despite the notable improvement in reporting since London 2012, people with disabilities  and non-disabled people want to see more disability sport coverage and parity with non-disabled people in sport.
  • There needs to be long-term efforts to improve the media coverage in-between Paralympic years to have a lasting impact for all disabled people in sport. While this is a high profile year for disability sport, there is an opportunity to shape coverage beyond the Paralympics.
  • Journalists and sports providers need more support and guidance on appropriate reporting.

For journalists and news providers, there were some key messages:

  • A number of groups can contribute to improving media coverage of disability sport and play an active role. They include journalists, news providers, National Governing Bodies of sport, sports clubs and ambassadors.
  • Priorities should be to:
    • Focus on achievement rather than disability
    • Avoid overly using terms such as “inspirational”
    • Clearly explain classification systems, recognising disability, but not dwelling on it
    • Use higher quality images, especially for local events.

“We saw a great surge in the number of people wanting to find their local pool or club during the Olympic Games and I have no doubt that the Paralympic Games will have a similar impact” said Interim ASA CEO, Jane Nickerson.

“Swimming is an activity in which everyone can take part. It does not discriminate and provides opportunities for everyone to participate at all levels. I am sure we will see more medal-winning performances in the pool in Rio, but we must make sure that the sport remains visible during the whole year and not just once or twice during a four year cycle.”

“The news we consume can affect everyone’s perceptions of themselves as people and, for the talented few in sport, as athletes. This means that it is particularly important that coverage is positive if it is going to encourage disabled people to access opportunities and take part. That is why we all have an obligation to improve our reporting and articles about disabled people in sport.” said Barry Horne, Chief Executive at EFDS

Access the EFDS report or download the EFDS Media Guide to reporting on disabled people in sport.

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